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That's What Friends Are For

Updated: Jul 1, 2018

Hi, I’m Anna Wassman. I am 25 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 1, 2018. When I was diagnosed I was in my last semester of my senior year at Loyola University Chicago. I underwent I bilateral mastectomy, lost my right nipple, underwent IVF egg freezing to protect my fertility before chemo, and managed to graduate summa cum laude despite these setbacks. I am currently going through chemotherapy and immunotherapy at Rush hospital in Chicago.

Wow, there are so many stories that I could share about my breast cancer experience that I find humorous. A story that really sticks out happened just this past week during my second round of chemotherapy.

Before my cancer diagnosis and still to this day, I have had this terrible phobia of needles. You would think that after being poked and prodded hundreds of time and undergoing loads of tests that I would be used to this by now... not really.

While I am happy to report that it has gotten easier, my mind still fills with anxiety, my palms get sweaty, and I tense up terribly (even while doing my yoga breathing, which ends up sounding more like a panic attack than me relaxing). And yes, this is all to brace myself for a tiny needle coming my way.

During chemo session No. 2, I brought two of my good friends with me to keep me company and catch up during my chair time. If you haven’t brought friends to your chemo sessions, I highly recommend it. It helped get my mind off what was really going on and allowed me to share some great laughs and enjoy some quality time with friends.

At the end of my session my nurse (who is seriously the sweetest person I have ever met) was busy working on rinsing my port, getting the needle out, and prepping me for my Neulasta shot, which would be injected into me in approximately three minutes. My friends and I were all so excited to get out of the hospital that everyone was packing up and talking when I completely forgot what my nurse was doing. Of course, she was telling me the whole time, but my excitement to get out of the chair and on with my night with my friends was distracting me.

In 3…2…1, she pulled my port needle out. At this point I was not expecting the shock of unexpected pressure and a prick of pain. Simultaneously, as she removed my port needle, my Neulasta injection snapped about half a second after. For anyone who hasn’t had the Neulasta injection, it feels like someone just snapped a rubber band against your skin. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry from the few seconds of pain. So instead I just kind of sat there shocked and started laughing. We all did.

My nurse, friends and myself all just sat there laughing. So for someone who is so terrified of needles, it just goes to show that when you have good friends around you, no matter what crazy circumstance, they always know how to make you laugh.

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